Mushroom and Leek Pasta with Chicken Sausages and Prosciutto

Fall brings along with it shorter and colder days. It also brings with it a huge variety delicious warm soups, pastas, baked goods, roasts… you get the gist. For me, when I come home from an 8 hour work day and/or a trip to the gym, I want an extremely simple, delicious, warm bowl of pasta to satisfy my carb cravings. This pasta dish in particular does not include that many ingredients and holds so much flavour that I can assure you’ll go for a second plate.

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Not only is it incredibly easy to make, its also light on the wallet. I get the majority of my pasta tips from one of my favourite chef’s: Mario Batali, cuz I’m basic and watched the Food channel religiously growing up. The guy has amazing tips on how to make fresh pasta, how to mix certain sauces with specific pastas, how to get the most flavour in a simple pasta dish, anything! I highly recommend watching a couple his shows on YouTube and adding in some of tips to your own cooking! The tip I incorporated into this dish was the process of taking out the pasta right before it is al dente, and finishing the cooking process in the sauce. This is most likely a super well known tip to the majority of pasta aficionado – but to me it was fresh and totally upped my pasta game!

Some substitutes if you don’t have all the ingredients available to you:

  • I used a rosemary chicken sausage from my grocery store’s deli counter because I  wanted something lighter but you can definitely substitute it with any mild sausage or just omit it all together! Sausages are often one of the cheaper meats on sale – so this is definitely a great dish if you’re feeling like you wanna save on dinner!
  • If you find buying a block of parmigiano reggiano to be difficult or pricey (it can be), what I used to do was just replace it with Grana Padano which is a much cheaper cheese and holds a similar flavour to the ultimate king of cheeses parmigiano reggiano.
  • You can also definitely substitute the pasta to whatever you’d like/have in the pantry! I just felt like rigatoni today :).

Let’s get started!

Mushroom and Leek pasta with Chicken Sausages and Prosciutto

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings:

    • 2 chicken sausages($2.33)
    • 3 Tbs olive oil ($0.20)
    • 2 cloves garlic ($0.04)
    • ½ pack of brown mushroom ($1.00)
    • 1 packed cup of spinach ($0.40)
    • ½ a leek ($0.50)
    • 50g prosciutto ($0.75)
    • ½ cup of parmigiano reggiano ($0.06)
    • 150g rigatoni pasta ($0.25)

    Total cost for 2 services: $5.53*

    Single serving for $2.76

    Serves 2, takes 20 Minutes

Compared to the $15-17 a plate at restaurants!

*DEPENDING THE COST OF THE INGREDIENTS IN YOUR AREA, THE COST MAY BE MORE OR LESS. I LIVE IN A FAIRLY INFLATED PART OF TOWN, SO CHANCES ARE YOUR COST WILL BE LESS.

 


DIRECTIONS

Prepare your ingredients! Shop up basically everything except the spinach, mince the garlic, and cut the prosciutto into large slices. What I did was I cooked the sausages in the casings then sliced them after they cooked so they could keep their shape. Put a large pot of water on boil to prepare your pasta and salt it so it tastes “like the sea.”

Ingredients - Leek mushroom pasta

Pour in the EVOO into a pan on medium heat, and put in the prosciutto. Once it crisps, add in the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms cook or “sweat”, you can move onto the next steps. This can take couple minutes.

mushrooms-pasta

Once the mushrooms cook, add in the leeks and the garlic and let it cook. Mix for a minute or two, then add in your sausages.

spinach-pasta

Once everything is well mixed, add in your spinach. The pasta is almost done! Pour in 2 ladles of the salted water into the pan, then drain your pasta. Next, add in the parm and add in salt & pepper to taste. Your final step is to add in the almost-al-dente pasta, and cook it in the pasta water infused with what you’ve made so far. This shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes.

 

Finished! Enjoy your super fast and super delicious plate of pasta 🙂

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Flavour-Packed Basil Fried Rice

Ah, fried rice. The best thing to come out of miscellaneous leftovers and dry old rice. We’re all guilty of cooking too much rice every now and then, but I’m more guilty of cooking too much and throwing it out. The problem with fried rice for me was that I find a lot of it is usually so bland and boring. So I decided I wanted to change that and see what I could do to make it taste better and have less food waste!

Eventually, this recipe became my go-to whenever I had leftover rice, chicken, beef, tofu, and certain veggies that were starting to go bad. I found that the best part of this recipe is that you can always alternate proteins & the veggies and it still holds the strong flavours anyone can really enjoy.

When it comes to fried rice, it’s usually best to use 1 or 2 day old rice that’s been kept in the fridge. That way its a bit more dry and can hold in more flavour without getting too mushy.

Here’s the basics of the recipe, you can always add in more vegetables you have left over.


Flavour-Packed Basil Fried Rice

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings:

  • 2 cups of cooked day-old rice (1 cup of uncooked rice)($0.38)
  • 4 Tbs canola oil ($0.20)
  • 1 large egg ($0.24)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped cooked chicken (or your choice of protein)($1.10)
  • 1 medium sized carrot ($0.16)
  • 2 scallions ($0.18)
  • 1/2 zucchini ($0.395)
  • 1/3 cup of corn ($0.06)
  • 1 bunch of chopped fresh basil ($0.398)
  • 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbs Dark Soy Sauce ($0.03)
  • 2 Tsp Oyster Sauce ($0.06)
  • 1 Thai chili (optional)

Total cost for 2 services: $3.32*

Single serving for $1.66

Serves 2, takes 20 Minutes

Compared to the $10-$12 at restaurants!

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


DIRECTIONS

Basil-Fried-Rice-Ingredients
Gather & prepare your veggies and chop it all into small cubes (corn not pictured). I had a left over chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken, so I just chopped that into cubes and it worked perfectly! Next, whisk the egg in separate bowl.

Place a wok on the stove at medium-high heat. Once your pan heats, add in 1 Tbs of the oil. As soon as the oil gets hot, add in the egg and scramble.

Basil-Fried-Rice-Eggs

As soon as it scrambles, remove the egg to a separate dish and pour 2 Tbs of the canola oil.

Basil-Fried-Rice-Vegetables

Next, add in your veggies. I used carrots, zucchini, and some corn. You can definitely add in whatever vegetable you have left over such as broccoli, bok choy, peppers, etc. as long as the flavour doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Basil-Fried-rice-mix

Stir for a bit and then add back in your eggs, and then add in your protein & the rice vinegar.

Mix for about 30 seconds to wait for the vinegar to cook off, then add in the rice!

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Break apart the rice and mix it in as much as possible and add in your last tablespoon of canola oil.

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Once the rice, meat, and vegetables are well mixed, add in the basil, green onions, soy sauce, and oyster sauce (and the Thai chili if you want it to be spicy!).

Basil-fried-rice-final

The oyster sauce can be substituted with vegetable Hoisin if you want, but I really recommend the oyster sauce as it adds it’s unique flavour (and no it does not taste like fish if you’re worried!)

Now really start stirring and really fry the rice. Once everything is mixed well and the basil becomes aromatic, take the rice off the heat and serve.

All done within 20 minutes!

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I really hope you enjoy it, and feedback (postive or constructive) is always appreciated! 🙂


INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website, and a local Chinese grocery store

6.8kg of Premium Calrose Rice ($14.99) – $0.22/100g
946 ml No Name Brand Canola Oil ($4.19) – $0.44/100ml
12 Large Eggs ($2.97)
Pack of 4 chicken breasts ($9.33)
1 Zucchini ($0.79)
1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)
Pack of Basil ($1.99)
500 ml Rootster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
750g of Frozen Corn Kernels ($0.99) – $0.132/100g
3 Lbs Carrots – $2.00

Dynamite Cajun Dusted Chicken Wings

There’s no such thing as low-fat chicken wings. I was shocked to see that people actually posted recipes online claiming that their chicken wings were “low-fat.” The reality is that the wings are the fattiest part of the chicken, and usually, they’re covered in batter (more fat), fried in oil (even more fat), and tossed with a sugar based sauce (sugar which then turns into fat). Usually, the best thing you can do is to bake it and try to lower the fat content as much as possible.

Even with all of these “negative”  aspects of chicken wings, there’s no denying that they’re delicious AF. Because of that sole reason, I decided that there must be a better way than to make it fat lathered in fat, fried in fat, and tossed in fat. The solution was to dust it with a dry rub that would stick on and bake it lightly sprayed with Pam. I mean, it may not be carrots and hummus in terms of calories and fat, but it tastes a lot better and we all deserve a treat every now and then ;).

This dry rub took a couple tries of perfecting, but honestly can easily be adjusted to anyone’s preference. As long as the base texture of Panko and flavour of smoked paprika is present, the taste and extra-crispy mouth-feel should always be perfect. Let’s get to it!


Dynamite Cajun Dusted Chicken Wings

Ingredients & Costs

  • 1 small package of chicken wings ($3.67)
  • ½ cup of Panko ($0.11)
  • 1 Tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
  • 1 Tsp Chili powder ($0.04)
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Power ($0.02)
  • 1 Tsp Salt ($0.01)
  • ½ Tsp Cumin ($0.02)
  • ½ Tsp Black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Serves 2, takes 40 Minutes

Total Cost = $3.99* for 7 wings!

Compared to the $8-12 at restaurants with Satay!


DIRECTIONS

First, preheat your oven (I used a toaster oven for this!) to 400°F, then combine all ingredients in a mortar (or food processor), and grind it all together!

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dusted-chicken-wings-grind

Make sure to grind it to make it as fine as possible.

Dusted-chicken-wings-dry-rub

Once the dry-rub looks about this texture, you can stop! The next step is to prepare the wings. If there is excess skin or fat on the wings, just cut them off. I find this makes it less soggy. Next, rinse all the wings under tap water so make sure there’s enough moisture to make the dry rub stick to the skin.

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Dust some of the dry rub on, and really rub it in so it sticks on until no skin is exposed.

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By the end, they should look something like this! Make sure the put your wings on an elevated rack so air can go under the wings and make it so that they don’t get soggy on the bottom.

Dusted-chicken-wings-rubbed

Spraying a little Pam (Canola Oil) on the wings is optional, but it makes it a little more crispy!

After about 30 minutes, flip them around, and broil them until they’re golden brown. And voila! You have yourself some delicious Cajun dusted (and a little less fatty) chicken wings!

Dusted-Chicken-Wings-baked

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INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website.

Small pack of chicken wings – $3.37
1kg Windsor Table Salt ($1.69) – $0.17/100g
300 g Cayenne Pepper from Bulk Barn – ($3.17) – $1.07/100g
227 g Kikkoman Japanese Panko Breadcrumbs – ($3.69) – $1.63/100g
65 g Smoked Paprika – ($2.99) – $4.60/100g
700g Club pack of Garlic Powder – ($7.49) – $1.07/100g
400 g Suraj Cumin ($3.49) – $0.87/100g
400 g Surag Ground Black Pepper ($7.79) – $1.95/100g
150 g No Name Chili Powder ($2.99) – $1.99/100g

Cheater’s Dan Dan Noodles

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These noodles are essentially what I call Chinese Bolognese or Chinese Ragu, because that’s basically what it is. When I was in kindergarten in China, this was a staple for the lunches they gave the kids, and it was definitely in my top 5 favourite lunches served. For a long time I had completely forgotten what the dish was called and wanted to recreate it so badly, and thankfully with the new rise of Asian fusion cuisine, I was finally able find recipes for it!

Dan Dan noodles seem to be all the hype at the new hip Asian Fusion restaurants in metropolitan areas. I’ve definitely had my fair share of good noodles and noodles that definitely do not taste like what Dan Dan Mian should taste like. To me, the main 3 flavours Dan Dan MUST have is chili bean paste, strong Sichuan peppercorn, and sesame paste. If the noodles are lacking these three flavours, its not real Dan Dan. And lets face it, a lot of those hip restaurants do lack these flavours.

If you’re not sure what Chili Bean Paste is, here’s the brand that I use constantly. I also found that this was the brand whose flavour I liked the most as well:

The reality of this dish is the fact that like the majority of Chinese noodle dishes, it requires a shit ton of various ingredients. Most of which are almost impossible to find at your local Chinese grocers if you can’t read Mandarin (I don’t, there was a lot of trial and error with this). This recipe is basically a cheaters Dan Dan recipe because it doesn’t incorporate all of the ingredients you should have, but keeps the main ingredients so you have a pretty close representation of what it’s supposed to taste like, without taking 6 hours to cook!

Before I start, I want to make a couple notes about this so there isn’t any ruckus about Dan Dan enthusiasts calling me out for in-authenticity of the recipe.

  • Dan Dan Mian is usually cooked with minced pork and this effects the fat content of the dish. However, the area I grew up in was a Muslim majority area of China so the minced pork was replaced with minced beef – so this is the protein I will be using for the recipe, you are totally allowed to use pork!
  • There are different types of Sichuan peppercorn (Red, Green, dry, fresh, etc). I usually just use dried red because its always available to me (you can even find it at bulk stores like Bulk Barn in Canada), however real Dan Dan Mian uses green peppercorns because they have a more “numbing” flavour. I definitely recommend grinding the peppercorn and doing this as it does add a kick-ass flavour, I just didn’t have any on hand so red worked just fine! (Note that all of my spices are ground!)
  • As I mentioned, sesame paste is a very important part of the dish (almost 1/3rd of it if you order the dish in China), however, if you find it difficult to find any in your area, replacing it with all natural peanut butter (the kind you get at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or Farm Boy) works fine too with a couple drops of sesame oil. I’ll be doing this because I don’t have sesame paste on hand!
  • Garnishing for the dish really brings all the flavours together, I like to add in some fresh green onions, cilantro, and julienned cucumber for added freshness – you totally should too!
  • The noodles for the dish is just as important as the sauce, I really recommend going to Chinatown and picking up some fresh wheat noodles or ramen noodles. If that’s not possible, try to find some sort of thinner Asian dried noodles (not Udon!).
  • wheat-noodles-thin
  • The 3 main ingredients I mentioned are most likely not going to be at your local grocery store. Take a trip to Chinatown and explore some new flavours!

Okay! Lets get to it.


Cheater’s Dan Dan Noodles

INGREDIENTS & COSTS:

  • 150 g of ground beef – you can use any ground protein really, the measurement is about 2 burger patties – ($1.32)
  • 2 tablespoons Canola Oil ($0.10)
  • 2/3 medium onion($0.13)
  • 2 cloves Garlic(0.04)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger($0.015)
  • 1 Tsp Cumin ($0.04)
  • 2 Tsp ground Sichuan peppercorn(ideally green but red works too) ($0.25)
  • 1 Tbs Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1 Tsp Chinese 5 Spice ($0.10)
  • 2 Star Anise ($0.01)
  • 1/4 cup of Chili Bean Paste($0.45)
  • 3 Tbs Sesame Paste (or All Natural Peanut Butter with 1 Tbs Sesame oil) (0.25)
  • 1/2 Cup warm chicken broth ($0.10)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 Package of fresh wheat noodles($1.19)
  • Hot Chili Oil to garnish
  • Scallions to garnish ($0.10)
  • Takes 30 minutes, serves 2.

    Total Cost = $4.81!* AKA $2.40 each!

    Compared to the $10-13 at restaurants!

    *Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

    Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


    DIRECTION

    Prepare your ingredients. Basically you have to mince everything and julienne the cucumber and slice the green onions.

    Ingredients

    (Don’t worry, the ground beef didn’t touch any other ingredients!)

    Bring a pot or dutch oven to medium heat and cook your protein. Once it’s browned after a couple minutes, take out the meat to place in a separate dish and drain the fat.

    dan-dan-noodles-beef

    Next add in the oil, wait for it to heat and add in the chopped onions, ginger, and garlic.

    dan-dan-noodles-onions

    Stir for about a minute and then add in the Sichuan peppercorn and star anise. After a couple seconds the peppercorn aroma should start making your nose feel funny and a little numb, this is how you know the flavour is real getting captured in the oil.

    dan-dan-noodles-spices

    Stir for a bit, then add in your cumin, five spice, and optional pepper flakes. After a couple minutes of stirring, your onions should start to get golden and the spices should be blending together to make a fairly unique aroma. Stir for another 2 minutes and add back the cooked ground beef.

    dan-dan-noodles-onion-beef-blend

    Once the beef is incorporated into the pot, add in the chili bean paste. Stir for about 2 minutes and then add in the warm chicken broth. It should bubble quite a bit at this point. Now add in the peanut butter or sesame paste and the cup of water, stir, and let it boil and thicken for a few minutes.

    dan-dan-boil

    Once it thickens, give it a quick taste test. Add in more ingredients or chill oil to your liking if you like your dish to be more spicy (I definitely do!). At this point the sauce is basically ready. Close the lid and turn off the stove while you prepare your noodles & garnishes.

    The final step is the boil your noodles and prepare your dish.

    dan-dan-noodles-noodles

    Once the noodles are ready, quickly rinse them in cold water so cooking process stops.

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    Pour the sauce over the noodles, and chop up some scallions, chili oil, and some cucumber to garnish.

    dan-dan-noodles-garnisheddan-dan-noodles-chili-oil

    Now you can enjoy some spicy, numbing, savoury, noodles! That wasn’t too hard was it?

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    You can always save the sauce if you feel like Dan Dan another day! I know I always make more on purpose for the sake of leftovers.

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    I’m honestly getting hungry just looking at these pictures… Good thing I have leftovers.

    dan-dan-mian-

    INGREDIENT COSTS

    I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer, Farmboy weekly flyer, their websites, and a local Chinese grocery store.